My husband thinks porn use is normal. What do I do?

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Apologies to Becky for the delay in responding to her question. I’ve decided to just make it a post because it’s the type of question that many wives have.

“I just posted that my husband is a porn addict. He’s promised me several times that he’d stop. Although, I’ve ended up finding it again. He let me put the accountability apps on his phone and computer, but is only going to give them a year limit. By then he says I should trust him and be over this. Since he’s lied to me before, I feel I can’t trust him. How do I go about telling him that I can’t live with that worry and it’s to painful, without upsetting him. He does not like it when I bring up the porn subject. I’m in so much pain and love him so much. He will not get counseling because he says there’s nothing wrong with him and say ALL men look or want to.

“Please help me, how do I set more boundaries without losing him or my mind.”

Please note that I am not a therapist, but I will answer based on my observation and research over the past few years. I would also encourage you to join the forum and ask the women there about boundaries. Many have shared their experiences with making boundaries.

– First of all, if you are like other women in this kind of situation, you may feel like you are crazy. You are not. Pornography at any level is a problem. This article in my opinion captures important truths about why that is the case. It includes both clinical and spiritual insights. http://overcome.byu.edu/Articles/Birch.asp

– The things your husband is saying and doing are classic behaviors of one who has a sexual addiction or compulsion. For example, he is promising that he will stop and then is not able to. He is minimizing the behavior (“every man does it”) and then turning the table on you to make it sound as though the real problem is you. The accusation is that if you would only change how you feel, everything would be okay.

– Even if he thinks it is “okay,” (which it isn’t — pornography use is harmful and addiction is usually a progressive problem that requires deliberate and willing choices to change) it is okay for you to feel that it is not okay. To change your values and ignore your feelings about the importance of marital fidelity and sexual health and purity — as well as having expectations of having a porn-free home — in order to “keep him happy” is not healthy for you. It’s not truly a loving thing to pretend this doesn’t matter to you, even though the part of him that wants to continue this behavior may insist that you should.

– Regarding boundaries, almost without exception, the women I have seen be able to draw healthy boundaries are those who have sought healing and support for themselves. For example, attending a support group like the Church’s addiction recovery support meetings for spouses, S-Anon (a non-denominational group for loved ones of sex addicts), or phone meetings through HealingthroughChrist.org (an unofficial but gospel-oriented 12-step program for loved ones). The Togetherness Project also has many resources for wives — it is a community of women helping each other, with the support of some therapists as well.

Many wives have also found a lot of help by connecting with the free six-week program that Addo Recovery provides. (You can search for their videos on their YouTube channel as well, but the six-week course also includes material to help support you as you watch the videos. Understanding betrayal trauma might help you feel less alone and more clear about things.

A group of wives has created a Google drive folder with various resources that you might find helpful.

– Boundaries are hard and very personal, but there are some guidelines that can be helpful. First and foremost, boundaries that you set are about what you will and won’t do. They aren’t about trying to make him do or not do something. He will have to decide what he will and won’t do.

Following is a quote and links to various resources about boundaries.

From the new spouse and family support guide that the Church has created,

As we consider limits and consequences to set for our family members, we need the Lord’s guidance. There is not one approach that is right for everyone. The Spirit can help us know what is right for our loved ones and for us.

There are, however, certain principles that can guide us in setting limits or consequences for our family members. For example, our limits and consequences should be based on the principle of agency—they must be centered on what we can and will do rather than on what we want or expect someone else to do. They should be inspired by love, not by anger or punishment. Limits or consequences [what you are and are not willing to do, live with, etc.] should be clear and concrete. They may involve a natural result of actions taken. We can start with simple and specific limits we can implement. For example, an appropriate place to begin is to insist that our homes be free from pornography, addictive substances, or related negative influences.

We should anticipate that our limits will be challenged and consequences will need to be enforced.

Here are some posts that have been written about boundaries. Again, I would urge that you seek some healing and support to help you get some sense of centeredness and to help you lean on others who have walked through this. Healing from the trauma and impact of his addiction on you can also help you feel the Spirit more clearly and learn to trust your instincts more (rather than trying to process things through his lens which is showing a minimization of the problem and your feelings).

Just a note about reading others’ thoughts — not everything will resonate, and links don’t imply endorsement of everything, but I do think it’s good to hear different people talk about boundaries to get a sense for what may feel right for you.

http://www.geoffsteurer.com/archives/377

Defining and Enforcing Boundaries in Sexual Addiction Recovery


http://www.partnersforpurity.com/forum/viewthread.php?
thread_id=3817&pid=45811#post_45811

Boundaries, the Spouse and the LDS Pornography Addict


http://hisstrugglemystruggle.blogspot.com/2012/04/what-heck-are-boundaries.html

Q: What if I set a boundary for safety and I feel as though he has lied and broke the boundary?


http://awiferedeemed.blogspot.com/2013/09/there-is-line.html
http://eatmyscabs.blogspot.com/search?q=boundaries

The Single Most Important Secret About Sex that Every Mormon Needs to Learn Now

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